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Journalists On the Front Lines

It was no surprise that when
Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak, decided
to clamp down on the protesters in Cairo
that an early target would be the TV cameras
beaming the events live to the world.

It was a stark reminder, though, of the
dangers faced by the people who head into
places like Liberation Square to record living
history on those days when the Oval Office gets its crisis updates from TV.

Revolution is a great show, but the sponsors
are fickle.

The images on CNN Wednesday were
amazing, after Anderson Cooper retreated to
a balcony over the square to record the action
below. Rock throwing escalated to Molotov
cocktails. Pro- and anti-Mubarak crowds surged
forward and back, and at one point Cooper’s producer
zoomed in on a camel and rider bursting through.

Cooper and company had already been assaulted once
by that point, one of dozens of run-ins documented
by ABC News of journalists being detained, pummeled
or threatened with beheading.

That led to some in-studio dramatics Th ursday
night, such as captions needlessly declaring
correspondents were broadcasting “from
a secret location.”

Journalists talking to journalists made for
some of the most insightful commentary,
though. The New York Times’ Nick Kristof early
on pegged the pro-Mubarak forces as paid
thugs, and he was the attribution for that report
on CNN much of the morning.

Reporters told the world their eyewitness
testimony of the peaceful revolution turned
bloody — even after their cameras were forcibly
switched off . Kristof on Th ursday filed a video
interview from the square for the Times’ Web
site, with 80-year-old women’s advocate Dr. Nawal el Saadawi.
“I am here because I feel I am born again,” she said.
“It’s a very spontaneous revolution.”

Here’s to her, and to the news crews that help tell her
story and those of thousands of others who, like the reporters
themselves, are in harm’s way.

Kent has been a journalist, writer and editor at Multichannel News since 1994 and with Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He is a good point of contact for anything editorial at the publications and for Before joining Multichannel News he had been a newspaper reporter with publications including The Washington Times, The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal and North County News.